What is Lean IT Governance?


As with most things in IT, there is no standard definition of what IT governance is. For example, the IT Governance Institute provides this definition:

“IT Governance is the leadership, organizational structures and processes to ensure that the organization’s IT sustains and extends the organization’s strategies and objectives.”

Gartner, on the other hand, offers this definition:

“IT governance (ITG) is defined as the processes that ensure the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals. IT demand governance (ITDG) is the process by which organizations ensure the effective evaluation, selection, prioritization, and funding of competing IT investments; oversee their implementation; and extract (measurable) business benefits. ITDG is a business investment decision-making and oversight process, and it is a business management responsibility. IT supply-side governance (ITSG) is concerned with ensuring that the IT organization operates in an effective, efficient and compliant fashion, and it is primarily a CIO responsibility.”

In Disciplined Agile, we promote the following definition:

“Lean IT Governance is the leadership, organizational structures and streamlined processes to enable IT to work as a partner in sustaining and extending the organization’s ability to produce meaningful value for its customers.”

As you can see in the following diagram, IT governance is part of your organization’s overall corporate governance strategy. IT governance encompasses several more narrow forms of governance, including but not limited to the governance of IT delivery/development, data/information, IT security, IT investment, enterprise architecture, and IT operations activities.

IT Governance in Context

IT governance typically addresses areas such as:

  • The effective and timely investment in IT to sustain and extend the organization over the long term
  • The evolution and support of roles and responsibilities to streamline how people work together
  • Definition of decision rights and decision making processes to streamline interactions between people
  • The evolution and support of common procedures and guidelines to ensure appropriate commonality of activities and artifacts
  • The evolution and support common roadmaps to guide the efforts of IT teams
  • The monitoring of activities to provide insight into their effectiveness
  • Formation of a governing body that is responsible for guiding governance activities
  • Definition of exceptions and escalation processes to streamline critical interactions
  • Creation of a knowledge sharing strategy to grow individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole
  • The support and monitoring of risk mitigation strategies to promote appropriate and holistic adoption of IT solutions
  • Adoption of a reward and compensation structure to support the attraction and retention of excellent staff
  • Status reporting to share information throughout the organization

In future blog postings we will explore why IT governance is important, the differences between traditional and lean approaches to IT governance, and the activities addressed by IT governance.

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